COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ)— A gruesome discovery inside a Columbia home: dozens of dead animals and their owner nowhere to be found.

Derek Valcourt has more on this bizarre animal abuse case.

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These animals had no food, no water and no heat. And adding to the mystery, some of them were found stuffed in a freezer.

Neighbors broke out their cameras as police began pulling the bodies of 40 dead animals from inside 9636 Lambeth Court in Columbia.

“It was just sickening.  My wife, she was going to throw up. She was disgusted,” said Michael Antonucci, neighbor.

Birds, cats, rabbits, snakes, guinea pigs– 19 of them found stuffed in a freezer;  21 others dead in the home or in cages.  Two cats, a bearded dragon lizard, and gerbil were found alive but sick.

“Rumors were they come at weird hours and a lot of complaints about the animals,” one neighbor said.

Neighbors say the renters living there hadn’t been seen in weeks.  The discovery came when the property owners came to check on the house after getting complaints of a nasty smell.

“I saw them when they first went in,” a neighbor said. “He walked in and walked right out. Nobody could stay in long  . . . the odor.”

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Right now no one lives in the house to the left. In the house to the right, a neighbor has just moved in only weeks ago.  She says she has not smelled any foul odors.

Neighbors say the renters were involved in some animal rescue organization. Police believe they know who to blame.

“Right now we are working to figure out where she is so that we can interview her,” said Sherry Llewelyn, Howard County Police.

Meantime animal loving neighbors are sickened.

“It just tears my heart out. It really does,” said one neighbor.

“How can someone who loves animals and rescues them leave those animals to die?” Antonucci said.

“If you can’t take care of the animals, if you can’t give them a good home, then you shouldn’t take on the responsibility,” said Dave Palmer.

So far, no arrests have been made in the case.  Police say the person or persons responsible will likely face animal cruelty charges.

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Anyone with information in the case is urged to call 410-313-STOP.